Feeding Your Dog a Raw Diet



With the recent surge of health-consciousness comes a renewed interest in raw feeding with regard to our furry friends.  Raw feeding is considered by many to be the gold standard in animal nutrition.  When done properly, raw provides all the necessary nutrients your pet needs.  Benefits of raw feeding include less ‘output’ (less waste as most of the food is utilized by the body) and improved overall health including coat condition.  Raw food is easily sourced at local grocery stores and ethnic markets as well as from local suppliers and those that ship.

Please remember to discuss any feeding changes with your veterinarian.


1. The BARF Diet

BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.  The original BARF diet was developed by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, Australian Veterinarian.  The BARF diet advocates raw boneless meat, raw bone, raw viscera, and fruits & vegetables.  There are no grains.  For a BARF diet, you want to feed 70/10/10/5/5 which means you want to feed 70% boneless meat, 10% bone, 10% fruits/veggies, 5% liver and 5% of another secreting organ.  Meat with bone includes poultry wings and necks, pork carcasses, lamb chops, etc.  The ratio should be 50% meat & 50% bone.  Whole salmon, sardines and mackerel can be added.  Raw viscera can be chicken/lamb/turkey hearts, chicken gizzards, poultry/cattle/veal liver, and kidneys.  Only a small amount of other foods (oils, animal fats, some fruit/vegetables, raw eggs, yogurt) should be included.  Be sure to research fruits and vegetables that are not allowed for a dog (for example – grapes, onions, garlic, avocado, raw beans).

2.  The PMR Diet

PMR stands for Prey Model Raw diet.  The PMR diet attempts to mimic how wild dogs would eat, so the diet consists solely of meat, bones and organs.  For a PMR diet, you want to feed 80/10/5/5 which means you want to feed 80% boneless meat, 10% bone, 5% liver and 5% of another secreting organ.  Research supporting the PMR diet has shown that dogs, although domesticated, are still 99% related to wolves and therefore considered carnivores.  So they do not require fruits and veggies in their diet.  Head structure, tooth structure, and short digestive tract confirm this.  Grains, while sometimes fed, are not species-appropriate or not easily digested due to the lack of salivary amylase.  PMR does not require that you feed whole prey.  In fact, many PMR feeders choose more of a ‘frankenprey’ menu, taking parts from different animals.  To be nutritionally sound, a PMR diet should contain proteins from at least three animal sources and preferably more.  These can include beef, pork, chicken, lamb, rabbit, duck, etc. and 50% of the meat should be red.  Bones should be those that can be consumed entirely.  Therefore, bones from large animals such as cattle and/or weight-bearing bones are ill-advised as they can harm teeth.  Good bone choices include chicken bones, duck bones, rabbit bones, lamb riblets, etc.   These types of bones provide mental stimulation as well as teeth-cleaning.  If you choose to feed conventionally-raised meats, you should supplement with a high quality fish oil (or fresh fish) to boost the Omega 3s.  Many people choose to start out with a complete premade raw food before moving to frankenprey.


How much you feed depends on the dog’s weight and activity level.  Generally, you feed 2.5% of a dog’s weight which would maintain their current weight; this is true for BARF and PMR.  You can increase or decrease the percentage depending on if the dog is losing too much weight or gaining too much weight.

As an example, let’s say you have a 70 pound greyhound that is currently at a healthy weight.  You want to feed 2.5% of 70 pounds daily.  That amounts to 28 ounces of food daily.  To feed a BARF diet, you would feed 19.6 ounces of meat, 2.8 ounces of bone, 2.8 ounces of fruits/veggies, 1.4 ounces of liver and 1.4 ounces of another organ.  To feed a PMR diet, you would feed 22.4 ounces of meat, 2.8 ounces of bone, 1.4 ounces of liver and 1.4 ounces of another organ.  Many people choose to split up the daily totals into two meals.


There are a multitude of books, Facebook groups and websites dedicated to raw feeding.  Research and prepare.  Some suggested references are:

* Books –
Raw Meaty Bones
by Tom Lonsdale.
Give Your Dog a Bone
by Dr. Ian Billinghurst.

*Facebook Group –
Learning Raw with Roxane – www.facebook.com/LearningRawWithRoxane/

* Website –
BARF World – www.barfworld.com/html/barf_diet/barfdiet.shtml
Perfectly Rawsome – www.perfectlyrawsome.com
Dog Food Advisor – www.dogfoodadvisor.com.  Search on information
about commercial premade raw foods.


Q: Should I be worried about getting sick feeding my dog raw food? 

A:  No need to be concerned. Just use common sense when handling raw food just as you would if you were handling raw meat to prepare dinner for your family. Make sure to disinfect surfaces well and wash hands for at least 20 seconds after touching raw food.

Q: Will my dog get sick from eating raw meat?

A:  A dog’s stomach acid becomes alkaline when you feed kibble.  As you get your dog on a raw diet, his stomach acid will become highly acidic and will be able to handle the naturally occurring bacteria found in all raw foods.  Certain items, like wild game and fish, should be frozen (5 degrees Fahrenheit / -15 degrees Celsius) for three weeks to kill or render inactive any parasites / worms  that may exist.

Q: Will raw bones harm my dog?

A:  Raw bones help make ‘output’ solid.  They provide calcium and are a necessary part of the raw diet.  As noted above, it is not advised to feed large, weight-bearing bones and of course, you should NEVER feed cooked bones which can splinter.

Q:  Can I feed raw and kibble together?

A:  Mixing raw and kibble is not advised.  Kibble, which is carbohydrate rich and highly processed, keeps the acidity of the stomach at an alkaline pH.  Raw foods keep the stomach acid pH acidic.  An acidic stomach environment will be better suited for digesting raw foods, especially raw bones.  As previously stated, an acidic stomach pH will also kill bacteria.  So, feeding kibble and raw foods together might interfere with the digestion of raw bone and possibly allow bacteria to thrive and flourish.